ATLANTA, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- States where the sale of raw milk was legal had more than twice the rate of outbreaks of illness than states where it was illegal, U.S. health officials said.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the rate of outbreaks caused by unpasteurized milk, also called raw milk, and products made from it was 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk.
Study co-author Dr. Barbara Mahon of the CDC, and colleagues reviewed dairy product outbreaks from 1993 to 2006 in all 50 states. The study authors compared the amount of milk produced in the United States during the 13-year study period -- about 2.7 trillion pounds -- to the amount that CDC estimated was likely consumed raw --1 percent, or 27 billion pounds. Raw milk products include cheese and yogurt.
The study, published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, found 121 dairy-related disease outbreaks, which caused 4,413 illnesses, 239 hospitalizations and three deaths. In 60 percent of the outbreaks state health officials determined raw milk products were the cause, the study said. Nearly all of the hospitalizations, 200 of 239, involved raw milk, the study said.
"While some people think that raw milk has more health benefits than pasteurized milk, this study shows that raw milk has great risks, especially for children, who experience more severe illnesses if they get sick," Mahon said in a statement. "Parents who have lived through the experience of watching their child fight for their life after drinking raw milk now say that it's just not worth the risk."